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THE BULL-HEADED PREMIER                   109

forests^with a pack of greyhounds and announce to the world: 'I am
not going hunting/ or for a man to go with a fish-net to the lakes and
declare: 1 am not going fishing.' It would be much better to stop
the rumours by throwing away the fish-nets and sending home the
hunting dogs."

He trusted that the Emperor would be able to see clearly for himself
that there was dissension and strife in the country. He should be able
to deduce from the resignation of all the able ministers what the state of
public opinion was like. After repeating most of the arguments against
the current reforms, he drove home the idea that in carrying out these
economic policies, the Emperor had already forfeited the people's
support and public opinion was against him and against the regime.

The letter was received in silence. In March, Su followed up with a
third letter. The Emperor had in the interim issued an edict forbidding
compulsory allocation of loans, but he was not ready to put a complete
stop to these measures. Quoting Mencius, Su said this was like a
chicken thief who said he was now ready to reform, and would steal
only one chicken per month. What aggravated the situation was that
in his capacity as magistrate at the capital, an office he had held since
January 1071, he gave out as subject for the local examinations "On
Dictatorship", which angered Wang Anshih greatly.

Promptly, Su Tungpo was cashiered. Just as he predicted, although
the Emperor might take his advice kindly, the politicians could get him
in trouble by some framed-up charge. The brother-in-law and flunkey
of Wang Anshih, Shieh Chii^gwen, set the wheels of the law moving
against Su Tungpo. There was now a rumour that while he was carry-
ing his father's coffin home in the long voyage back to Szechuen, he
had made unwarranted use of government guards and had bought
furniture and porcelain and possibly smuggled salt for profit. Officials
were 'sent'out to the different provinces along the route which the Su
brothers had travelled to collect data from boatmen, soldiers, and
Custom officers. Su Tungpo probably did buy a lot of furniture and
ipbrcelain, but there was nothing illegal about it. The couriers came
back and reported that they could not find anything, and they certainly
would have if they could.

In his letter to his wife's brother, who was at this time living back at
Szechuen, Su wrote: "Miss Twenty-Seven [Mrs. Su] is doing well and
recently a son has been born to us. ... I have been a thorn in the sides
of the authorities for a long time. Let them investigate all they want.
I know they will only make fools of themselves. You may have heard
of the rumour, but do not worry on my account."